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Official Review by Jonah Berman, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
The basketball program at Boston College has seen its share of up and down years, yet consistently seems to challenge for an NCAA tournament berth. While it hasn't been a serious contender since the Jared Dudley days, with the arrival of new coach Steve Donahue in 2010, things are looking up for the Eagles. Playing in the ACC means that a slew of top teams come to Chestnut Hill every year, resulting in some can't-miss matchups. Conte Forum, home of the Eagles since 1988, doesn't offer much beyond the typical stadium experience. If you're there for the basketball, you'll find it's just fine. But if you're looking for a unique stadium experience, there's simply not a whole lot to offer.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Think of the most standard stadium food you can imagine, and you'll have a good picture of the options at Conte. Hot dogs, sodas, pretzels, nachos, and the like. No beer to speak of, as this is an on-campus facility. Dogs go for $4, and on this particular night the highlighted deal was 4 dogs and 2 sodas for $15 (a $22 value). If you come with a big appetite, you may find yourself disappointed. But if a small snack or two can sustain you for a 2-hour game, you should be okay.
The atmosphere at Conte is largely dependent on the success of the team that year. When the team holds a top-25 ranking and is not only looking at an NCAA tournament berth, but is contending in the ACC and seeking a higher tournament seeding, the atmosphere can be electric. You'll also find a full house when big name teams like Duke and UNC come into town. But in a down year, the team struggles to fill the stadium for its games against unsexy opponents. The "Superfans" sections at each baseline, filled with students in bright yellow t-shirts, can be a nuisance to visitors if they're at capacity, but at half-capacity, the intimidation factor is pretty low.
Conte Forum is nestled in the middle of campus, and the immediate surrounding neighborhood offers very little. The Boston College T-station is right next to a small strip, including a Dunkin' Donuts, a Flat Breads sandwich shop and a White Mountain Creamery ice cream. A 15-20 minute walk away is the Cleveland Circle neighborhood, which offers a wide range of options for pre- and post-game eating and drinking. There you'll find the Cityside Bar & Grill, Roggie's, and Pino's Pizza, all favorites of BC students. If you're looking for a unique option, Eagles Deli offers a series of "challenges," for customers, including the Eagles' Challenge: 5 lbs of Burger, 20 pieces of bacon, 20 pieces of American cheese, 5 lbs of fries, a pickle and fountain soda. (Note: Stadium Journey does NOT recommend you taking this on yourself!) Cleveland Circle is also home to Mary Ann's, the (un)official Boston College dive bar. If you take the T to the Reservoir stop, it lets you off right in Cleveland Circle. You can grab something to eat, and then get the free BC shuttle at the T-stop to take you right to Conte Forum.
There are some diehard Eagle fans, to be sure, that can be found at most every game. But a Division I ACC team shouldn't struggle to fill their stands in an 8,000-seat venue, and unfortunately the Eagles do. To be fair, the fans that are in attendance battle hard for their team, but a half-empty student section just doesn't cut it. You do have to appreciate however, the two-handed high flying Eagle symbol that students float out for free throw attempts.
Access is not an issue at Conte Forum. Parking is free on game nights, and there are two garages accessible, from either Beacon Street or Commonwealth Avenue. As mentioned above, the D-Line (green) will take you to Reservoir, from whence there is a free shuttle to campus, or, the B-line will take you right to the edge of campus. Once inside, moving around the stadium and finding restrooms is simple as can be.
It's not that Conte Forum has any flaws per se, simply that it doesn't offer much to the well-traveled sports fan. That said, tickets can be had for reasonable prices ($20 or less), and sight lines in the arena are good from most anywhere. It'll be money well spent if you're simply there to take in some basketball. It's especially a good option for families who don't want to make the trip downtown and pay the exorbitant amount it costs to get Celtics tickets these days.
A new jumbotron makes it easy to see the score and stats from most anywhere, and the BC cheerleaders and pep band do enhance the college feel of the experience.
There's nothing wrong with Conte Forum, there's just not much to write home about. A venue feeds off the success of the team that inhabits it, and the hope here is that Coach Donahue continues to improve the fortunes of the program over the coming years. If that does indeed happen, the aura surrounding this particular site could change significantly, and quickly at that.
Member Review by Kristospherein on Jan 31, 2012
Just an average place to see a game. I would go again just to see the beautiful campus.
1960 Beacon St
Brighton, MA 02135
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